Fall 2001

Which Foundation? Introductory Notes

Angelo Scola

"Fundamentalism . . . fails to see that . . . each man, and only he, decides about his humanity, because the foundation itself chooses the act of human freedom as the locus of its donation."

1. The Foundation: A Given?


“For no one can lay a foundation [themelion] other than the one that is already in place [ton keimenon], which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:11).

It behooves us to bring out the full theoretical density of Paul’s expression ton keimenon, which we have translated as “already in place.” This is in order to free ourselves at the outset of an illusion that is characteristic of a good deal of modern thought: the illusion that the foundation can be “placed,” or “posited,” by the transcendental activity of the subject, whatever the name under which it appears. Would not Husserl’s “reduction,” together with the critique of constituting intentionality, rise up in protest against such a notion of “foundation”?

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1. The title was proposed to me by the editors of Communio. I limit myself to offering a few fragmentary notes, which cannot but leave certain aspects, even important ones, untreated. I am emboldened to do so by the solidarity of friends with whom I have been endeavoring to reflect on these issues for a number of years now: Ignacio Carbajosa, Gilfredo Marengo, Paolo Martinelli, Javier Prades, Nicola Reali, and Gabriel Richi.